How to Frame a Basement

Framed wall with plumbing and electrical running through it
  • 20-40 hours
  • Beginner
  • 400-2,000
What You'll Need
2x4-inch lumber
1x4-inch lumber
Framing Square
Tape Measure
Plumb Bob
Hammer drill
Masonry bit
Masonry screws
Chalk line
Concrete sealer
Foam insulation
Eye Protection

You can frame a basement to use it as an additional living space but first, there are a few things that you will need to know. A finished basement is something that will not only add extra space to your home, but it can also increase your home's value by thousands of dollars. This helpful do-it-yourself guide will allow you to better understand, plan, and frame your basement in so that it reflects your own tastes and brings you many years of usage and enjoyment.

As families grow many people find themselves wanting to expand their homes. They wish to use available living space for an office, a home gym, or what-have-you, and they are looking at their basement as a ready source. Some people will add a finished basement to their home because it is cheaper and easier than a full addition. To frame a basement, you need to follow these proceeding steps that will help teach you some basic framing techniques.

Step 1 - Seal Foundation Walls and Measure Room

patching a crack in a concrete wall

Basements are typically damp. Being underground, they are much cooler than the home above and so they often contain some greater or lesser amount of moisture in the air. To reduce the level of moisture in the air in your basement, you might wish to apply cement sealer to the walls and floor before you begin to lay out your framing plan.

Once the sealant has dried sufficiently then you can lay out the lines for your new room or rooms. Measure the length of a wall and mark the floor at the desired measurement. Do the same on the adjoining wall and connect them with a chalk line. Measure diagonally to make sure the room is square.

Step 2 - Lay the Bottom Plate

Starting with one of the sidewalls you will first have to lay the bottom plates for your framing. Use 2x4-inch lumber and secure it to the floor using masonry screws. Determine where your door or doors will go, and then cut the space out of the bottom plate.

Step 3 - Install the Top Plate

Cut the top plate to match the length of the bottom. Hang a plumb line from the top to the bottom plate and line them up. Secure the 2x4-inch boards to the top plate and then nail it securely into the floor joists.

Step 4 - Frame the Room

insulated basement ceiling

Using more 2x4-inch boards, frame the portions of the room not on a concrete wall. Use basic framing principles and place the studs on 16-inch centers. Attach them by toe-nailing the nails into the bottom and top plates. Frame the door with a top sill at the correct height. You do not need a header board because this wall will not be load-bearing.

To frame the walls along the concrete foundation, attach 1x4-inch lumber to the wall. Install these boards with a 16-inch on-center placement. Attach lumber to the top and bottom plates. When you reach the foundation windows, frame them with 1x4-inch boards so that you can finish them later with the wall covering.

Step 5 - Install Foam Insulation

To complete the framing of the basement, you will need to attach foam insulation boards to the concrete walls. Cut them to the correct width and length using a utility knife and a straight edge. Add them to the wall with construction adhesive. Alternately you can use soundproofing insulation for a much more private, and quiet room.